Ever wonder why there is always so much stress and conflict at work? Blame it on your boss. Blame it on your direct reports. Blame it on the weather.
And of course there is too much daily stress.
Billions of dollars are being spent on communications workshops, anger management workshops, and conflict resolution seminars. Yet, there is still way too much gossip, back-biting and upset seen daily in offices everywhere.
Years ago I got on the fast track to find out why it is so hard to get along. And here is the essence of what I found: we have been looking in all the wrong places!
But before I tell you how to right the wrong of discontent at work and give you the four best ways to healthy and happy, I'd like to give you the back story of why working together in an open, fun, and real way matters to me so much.
When I was fourteen my father came home from another day of conflict filled work. I heard him talking with my mother. He sounded tired, frustrated and hopeless.
This was not new. It had been that way ever since I could remember. And I decided work was a burden and a curse for becoming a grown up.
My dad and his business partners, his two brothers, had a successful company that like most, went through down times only to revive and thrive. However, the three of them just couldn't get along. (Marcus Lemonis where were you when they needed you).
Anyway, that evening I heard him say to my mother "I'm done. I can't keep up the arguing and the power plays anymore."
I'll spare you the awful details. Just know that my parents went out to dinner that evening and the next morning we were planning his funeral. I always felt that his sudden physical heart attack was due to the incessant discord and a broken heart.
My quest for answers began then.
I looked around and wondered why there were cliques in school, why people in the neighborhood were gossips, why there was so much blaming and finger pointing, why people were crabby and resentful in the places they worked.
Here is the answer I found after decades of trial and error: we bring the behavior patterns we learned as children into the workplace. And when I found this missing piece, work conflict began to make sense.
Organizations, like families function as emotional systems. When stress hits the hot button we stop behaving in grown up ways and go back to early behavior patterns that were there for our security and survival.
It happens everywhere, in every country, in every business.
Here are the three ways that make a difference and limit the intensity and duration of conflict at work. I call it the way OUT:
- Observe how you respond when over the top stress sills into your day
- Understand how you developed your reactions when you were a kid by being a pleaser, avoider, bully, rescuer, etc.
- Transform these patterns into healthy ways of responding
There is a pattern aware quiz you can take to get you started if you are not really sure what patterns you repeat and repeat when you are upset.
Me? I become a drama queen and do whatever I can to be the center of attention to get my way. I have learned to transform this obnoxious behavior into becoming a good story teller.
I still get the adrenaline rush; I still get to be heard. However, now I have a positive direction and can make a difference, not just make noise.
Not sure your behavior patterns make a difference when it comes to conflict? Think this is just more fluff stuff?
Think about pattern transformation like an insurance policy for your family. I wish my dad and his partners in business had known about transforming patterns. It could have made a world of difference.